Urban Heat Island Project Implementation and Regional Sustainability Policies

Host: Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District
Openings: 2
Project Focus: Climate Adaptation,Climate Mitigation,Public Health,Transportation / Mobility,Urban Planning
Skills Needed: Community Engagement,Research, Data Analysis,Environmental Justice,

Remote or On-Site Placement


Service Needs & Plans

The Sac Metro Air District is conducting two projects that would benefit from assistance from Civic Spark Fellows, this includes Urban Heat Island (UHI) and Climate Resilient Policy Implementation and Alternative Mobility Solutions.

To address the UHI challenge, Sac Metro Air District developed an advanced model of the UHI effect in the Capital Region, at local and regional scales, and for today’s conditions as well as a 2050 land use and climate scenario. The model identifies the geographic areas with the most severe UHI effect and evaluates the effectiveness of heat mitigation measure options deployed at various scales. These findings were distilled into transportation resilience recommendations and strategies for local governments. The project team also conducted community outreach and engagement throughout the Capital Region to understand community concerns around extreme heat, transportation needs, and priorities for neighborhood and transportation improvements.

Sac Metro Air District’s Urban Heat Project findings and recommendations can aid local governments in their overall planning for extreme heat and heat resilience for public health, land use design, urban forestry, and more. Yet there is little understanding or capacity to implement the recommended measures into local plans, policies, and actions.

Sac Metro Air District is currently applying for EPA funding to create a regional climate action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the Sacramento Metropolitan Area. Topics like Urban Heat Island, urban greening, and zero emission mobility could be incorporated into Sacramento’s regional climate plan.

Alternative Mobility
Many Sacramentans don’t have access to clean, safe, and reliable transportation to get to school, work, and needed services such as the grocery store and doctor’s appointments. The Sac Metro Air District has been working with community partners to address these mobility gaps by providing access to electric vehicle ownership, electric vehicle carshare, public transit, and other mobility services. Working with community groups, community based organizations, and non-profits to provide incentives or access to funds for underserved communities is difficult. Trust issues with government organizations exist in these communities, and sometimes just gaining access to them can be difficult.

Project Description

Urban Heat Island (UHI)
The goal of this project is to move the Sac Metro Air District UHI work into implementation phase. This includes working with local agencies on incorporating UHI and other climate resilient measures into actionable policies and plans, working with Air District staff to incorporate the measures and policies into existing tools, such as CalEEMod, and working with partners and community organizations on UHI education. The CivicSpark Fellow would be involved in all aspects of this work, and one of the key contributors on working with local jurisdictions to implement measures in their various programs. Outcomes will vary based on the partner agencies engaged, but could include: policies in climate action plans, policies in general or specific plans, and policies or measures in development agreements. For the Air District, outcomes include the inclusion of resilient and UHI specific tools in CalEEMod. These resources will provide the Sac Metro Air Districts and its partner agencies the specific implementation measures needed to decrease the impacts of climate change and reduce health impacts from poor air quality in our region. With EPA grant funding, UHI specific tools could be used to implement urban cooling projects in local jurisdictions with tangible benefits for local residents.

Alternative Mobility
The goal of the alternative mobility programs at the Sac Metro Air District are to provide access to different transportation modes for residents living in undersourced communities through Sacramento. The Fellow will asked to conduct research on how the different mobility solutions are currently being used, analyze the program’s effectiveness in meeting its goals, and provide suggestions on how to make the program better. In addition, the Fellow will work with community based organizations to collect feedback from the program’s participants and solicit interest from potential members/participants to take advantage of the programs offerings. This work will result in a research project that outlines actions to improve the program, which could include how best to utilize program funds. This is in addition to improving the quality of life for residents that are currently participating in the various programs offered. This work will help to inform the Sac Metro Air District and community partners on how best to offer mobility programs.

Desired Skills

We are looking for someone that is analytical and understands how to move from theory to practice. They should be able to engage with different stakeholders through different media (phone, email, in-person, etc). They should have a general understanding of climate impacts on health, specifically in vulnerable communities. A general understanding of different mobility options is a plus (electric vehicles, carshare, rideshare, etc).

Organization & Workplace Highlights

The City of Sacramento, where the Sac Metro Air District is located, is the most integrated community in the U.S. (according to the US Census). Our agency considers this diversity in every aspect of our work. We have included environmental justice components in our planning tools such as CalEEMod, we provide programs and incentives for income qualified residents residing in under resourced communities, and we engage with local community groups in insure our programs have the most benefit for the communities they target.

While staff at the Air District work closely together on these projects, the also engage with many different stakeholders. This provides an opportunity to not only learn from a diversity of people, it’s a great networking opportunity as well. We like to provide our Fellows the opportunity to engage in different aspects of our work, including attending conferences, participating in board and public meetings, meeting with staff from partner agencies, and attending staff parties.

Lastly, being in the state capitol of the most innovative state in the country (if not most innovative government in the world) is a great learning opportunity as well. Outside of work their are opportunities to meet with elected officials, state agencies, professional organizations, and community-based organizations and non-profits.

Community Highlights

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